Thursday Thoughts: CSUN Series & USC Game

Ahead of schedule. That appears to be the general consensus regarding the trajectory of the 2023 Titans Baseball club in the rebuilding process.

Hearken back to the 2019 season when many fans, us included, were looking ahead at the schedule and counting game dates remaining in hopes of the Titans earning 30 wins for the season. If you recall, the Titans needed to win the final two games of the 2019 season just avoid going sub-.500 for the first time in program history. Unfortunately, that happened in 2021 when the Titans finished the season 20-35, winning only one game in their last 15 games.

With a monumental rebuilding project in front of him, Head Coach Jason Dietrich and his staff has shown in their second year at the helm they are up for the job. After securing the 4-2 victory over the USC Trojans on Wednesday, that win locked in a guaranteed winning season.

The Titans 2023 record stands at 27-13 with 13 games left in the regular season. Even if the Titans implode and lose the remaining 13 games on the regular season, the season would result in a 27-26 season, one game above .500. Of course, nobody thinks the Titans will spin out the remaining 13 regular season games. The likelihood of them winning three more to earn a 30+-game season seems more likely than a 13-game losing streak.

Join us as we look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly that was Titan Baseball this past week at Cal State Northridge and the mid-week game vs. USC and preview the weekend series at TCU.

The Results

(First score listed is visiting team score, second number is the home team’s score)

Friday, April 28, 2023 at Cal State Northridge: LOSS – 4-11
Saturday, April 29, 2023 at Cal State Northridge: WIN – 15-1
Sunday, April 30, 2023 at Cal State Northridge: WIN – 4-2
Wednesday, May 3, 2023 vs. USC: WIN – 2-4

Season to date stats

Overall Record: 27-13
Conference Record: 17-4
Streak: Won 3
Last 10: 8-2


Runs Scored: 274
Hits: 395
Doubles: 96
Triples: 5
Home Runs: 26
RBI: 248
Team Batting Avg: .283
On-Base %: .385
Slugging %: .414
Walks: 200
Extra base hits: 127
Total bases: 579
Hit by pitch: 49
Stolen Bases: 34
Strikeouts: 304


Errors: 40
Fielding %: .973
Double Plays turned: 33
Passed Balls: 5
Stolen Bases allowed: 16


Team ERA: 4.72
Batting average against: .275
Hits allowed: 393
Total Runs Allowed: 215
Walks Issued: 170
Strikeouts: 361
Ks per 9 innings: 8.93
Home runs allowed: 33

Polls and RPI Tracker


D1Baseball: 24
Baseball America: Not Ranked
Collegiate Baseball: 12
College Baseball Nation: 25
USA Today Coaches Poll: Not Ranked
11.7 Mid-Major Power Rankings: 7


NCAA: 42
Warren Nolan: 42 41

Titans of the Week

Winners chosen via Twitter poll

Pitcher of the Week

Fynn Chester head shot
Fynn Chester

Fynn Chester: 5IP – 4H – 0ER – 0BB – 3K – 0.00 ERA – 1W

Also considered:
Trevor Hinkle: 3IP – 1H – 1ER – 1BB – 1K – 3.00 ERA
Jojo Ingrassia: 3.1IP – 2H – 0ER – 2BB – 4K – 0.00 ERA – 1W
Evan Yates: 6IP – 2H – 1ER – 2BB – 4K – 1.50 ERA

Batter of the Week

Cole Urman
Cole Urman

Cole Urman: 6-for-13 – .460 – 4R – 4RBI – 1BB – 1K – 2HR

Also considered:
Caden Connor: 3-for-10 – .300 – 1R – 3RBI – 3BB – 1K
Moises Guzman: 3-for-9 – .330 – 6R – 1RBI – 5BB – 2K
Nate Nankil: 4-for-7 – .570 – 2R – 2RBI – 2BB – 0K – 1HR

The Good

Ninth Series Win

Two out of three gets you to Omaha. Following that pattern, the Titans have now made it nine weekends in a row since their last series loss. Since the Michigan double-header loss on February 26th, the Titans have rattled off nine weekends of winning baseball.

Now that the calendar has moved to May, looking back, the Titans had an incredible month of April. Over the past month, the Titans went 13-5 including a seven-game win streak from April 14-23.

The last time the Titans won nine or more weekend series in the regular season? 2017. The last year the Titans went to Omaha. (That 2017 Titans team won 11 series that year and while playing 14 weekends.)

The 2023 Titans have 15 weekend opportunities total and four weekends remaining. If the Titans win win two out of three over the next four weekends, they will have won 13 series on the year.

Not bad for a team projected to finish fourth in the Big West Conference before the season started.


Ranked for the first time in a long time

D1Baseball_5-1_PollAlthough Collegiate Baseball was the first to rank the Titans this year, many of the other polls have finally come around. Most notably, poll ranks the Titans No. 24.

(D1Baseball is considered the accepted authority ranking poll and is used by ESPN and other media outlets as the consensus poll when referring to college baseball rankings.)

One of the reasons we added in the weekly rankings of the different outlets in our Thursday Thoughts was to be able to track the movements within the year but also track the last time the Titans were ranked within the top 25 or the top 10 or top five, etc.

Unfortunately due to the Titans recent skid in previous years, it would be too time consuming and tedious to go through each week on the D1Baseball website to figure out that last time they ranked the Titans within the top 25.

Trust us, it’s been a long time dating back to probably 2018.

Two out Hitting!

Proving that this Titan team never gives up and you can never count them out, the Titan Sports Information Department provided us with an interesting statistic coming out of the USC game on Wednesday.

This season the Titans have scored 87 times with two outs for a total of 116 runs. With 274 runs scored this season, roughly 42% of the runs scored thus far in 2023 have come with two outs.

Proof positive that this crop of Titans won’t phone it in and try again next inning when there are two outs on the board.

Cole Urman power surge lately

Coming into the season, Cole Urman was regarded as a plus-plus defensive catcher with questionable offensive skills. Urman’s recent performances these past few weekends have proved he can hit too.

Season to date, Urman’s slash line sits at .281 / .314 / .406, but his recent performances have really started to open up people’s eyes. In the month of April, Urman appeared in 15 games and hit successfully in 14 of those games. (0-for-4 vs. CSU Bakersfield on 4/23/2023) During April, Urman had six multi-hit games.

Against Cal State Northridge, Urman blasted a home run on Friday and another on Sunday. The Sunday bomb proved to be the game winner, to improve his home run total to three on the year.

Not only should potential base runners fear his arm behind the plate, opposing pitchers should fear his bat in front of them now too.

No Ks vs. NOrthridge on Saturday

Saturday No K Day

What if we told you that coming out of the 15-1 win over Cal State Northridge on Saturday, the Titans would record 15 hits, collect 10 walks and strike out not once? Would you believe us?

You read that correctly, the Titans did not record a strike out on Saturday at all. 36 official at-bats for the Titans and no Ks.

Streaker Tracker

Frank the Tank Old School
“We’re going streaking!

Let’s check in on the streaks heading into this past weekend’s series and see how those players fared:

  • Caden Connor extended his hitting streak through eight games but it ended on Sunday vs. Cal State Northridge, going 0-for-4. Connor did walk once on Sunday and again on Wednesday vs. USC to extend his on-base streak to 17 games.
  • Moises Guzman extended his walk streak to 12 games following the USC game. Moises has led off for the Titans of late and his ability to go deep in counts and draw walks may be one of the main reasons Head Coach Jason Dietrich has been penciling in his name at the top of the a walking machine lately, having received 14 free passes in eight straight games. Guzman’s walk-a-thon started on Saturday vs. UC Riverside and translates into an eight-game on-base streak.

The Bad

Nate Nankil
Nate Nankil was noticeably missing from the Friday line-up at CSUN. We later learned he was ill with flu-like symptoms and could not play.
(Photo courtesy of Don Hudson)

Flu bug

Nate Nankil, who has been red hot at the plate lately, missed the Friday game at Cal State Northridge due to having the flu. Broadcaster Mike Martinez revealed on the Wednesday ESPN+ stream that Nankil was the one most affected by a bug going around the team. Apparently, Tyler Stultz and Fynn Chester were also not feeling 100%.

We’re not blaming the 11-4 loss on Nankil’s absence and Stultz’s seven earned run performance on the illness. We’re thinking it may have played a factor but there is no way of knowing definitively.

The good news remains that in the post-COVID-19 era, the entire team did not need to be quarantined or the game suspended due to an illness in the team.

Carter White gets a warm welcome back to the Titan dugout after scoring the first run of the UCLA game.
(Photo courtesy of Katie Albertson / Titan Athletics)

Carter White has cooled off

Starting with the trip out to Arizona State, Carter White has gone 1-for-17 in his last five games. He did not play on Wednesday vs. USC.

Titan fans probably recall how White got off to a red-hot start and was batting over .400 and leading the Big West Conference in batting average mid-way through the season. He still ranks tied for third in the conference with Jakob Simmons (CSUN), batting .358.

We’ll see if White can heat back up for the stretch run towards the post-season over the next 13 games.

TCU Struggling
The TCU Horned Frogs have not lived up to pre-season expectations so far, recording a 25-20 overall record prior to the Cal State Fullerton series.
(Photo courtesy of TCU Athletics)

TCU struggling

Opening the season and looking towards this weekend, many expected TCU to be in a much better position than they current reside. At the beginning of the season, had someone told you that Cal State Fullerton would have a better RPI number than TCU headed into this series, you would have asked them to take a drug test.

But the fact remains, Cal State Fullerton’s RPI sits at 41 or 42 depending on where you look. TCU’s RPI number? 53 or 54.

With eyes set on winning the Big West Conference and an automatic qualifying bid to the postseason with it, why would RPI come into play? RPI gets factored into the seeding in the Regionals. Taking the series or even sweeping TCU on the road with a higher RPI than they have now, would have done much more for Cal State Fullerton regarding RPI and seeding.

Instead of getting ahead of ourselves, let’s focus on the series at TCU and let the RPI work itself out.

The Ugly

Fort Worth Weather Forecast

The weather issues the Titans faced earlier in the season are projected for this weekend in Fort Worth. Rather than cold and rainy, the Titans could face warm and rainy conditions this weekend.

For those Titans with aspirations of playing professionally, they will get a true taste of what it is like to experience rain delays. The coaching staff will need to game plan for a pitching staff that could see a pitcher start the game and be cruising but need to be taken out due to a long rain delay and he no longer can pitch. (Anyone remember the titans’ first game in the 2015 College World Series?)

In addition to potential rain delays, add in the hot and humid weather that can be oppressive no matter what position a player plays. Chalk it up to preparation for a pro career that could see an alumnus playing in the Midwest or the south during their minor league career. Depending on where the NCAA Selection Committee chooses to send the Titans, this could be preparation for the Regionals and Super Regionals.

No matter, the weather could play a big factor which could favor the home team.

Looking Ahead

Freshman Eli Lopez takes infield practice at Lupton Stadium on the campus of TCU ahead of the titans playing TCU for a three-game weekend series.
(Photo courtesy of Titan Athletics / Titan Baseball Twitter)

We’re going to call this the “Saarloos Bowl”. As we all know, Kirk Saarloos pitched for Cal State Fullerton and is now the Head Coach for TCU. This series between TCU and Cal State Fullerton was made possible by a serendipitous scheduling gap in the middle of conference play for both teams.

The TCU Horned Frogs, 25-20 overall and 8-10 in the Big 12, welcomes the Titans into Fort Worth riding a two-game win streak. After losing the first two games of the weekend series with Texas, the Horned Frogs salvaged the series on Monday vs. the Longhorns and then beat UT Rio Grand Valley 14-4 in a seven inning mid-week game on Tuesday. The Titans come into the weekend on a three-game winning streak themselves, winning the last two games at CSUN and beating USC on Wednesday.

Series History

TCU and Cal State Fullerton meet this weekend for the 24th time and the Titans hold a 16-7 series record all-time vs. the Horned Frogs. The last meeting between the Titans and the Frogs came in Scottsdale, Ariz. during the 2019 MLB4 Tournament that also featured Vanderbilt and the University of Virginia. The Titans won that match-up with the Frogs 2-0. In nine meetings in Fort Worth, the Titans hold a 7-2 advantage over TCU.

At the Plate

Freshman Anthony Silva appears to be the big threat with a bat in his hand. Batting .366 on the season and .411 recently in conference play, as Silva goes the TCU offense goes. Catcher Karson Bowen and 1st Baseman Cole Fontenelle are batting an identical .318 with Fontenelle hitting safely in 20 of the last 24 games. Third Baseman Brayden Taylor leads the Frogs with 14 home runs this year.

On the Bump

Two freshmen are expected to start Friday and Saturday for TCU with the Sunday start still up in the air. Kole Klecher is expected to take the mound on Friday, sporting a 7-4 record and 4.68 ERA. Klecker leads the Big 12 with seven wins and has recorded 42 strikeouts in 57.2 innings pitched. Saturday starter Louis Rodriguez posted his first career quality start vs. Texas going six innings, his longest of the season. Rodriguez holds a 4.73 ERA and a 1-0 win/loss record into the weekend.

In the bullpen, Garrett Wright has two saves this season and holds a 2-1 record and 2.70 ERA. Ben Albeld has pitched the most innings out of the bullpen for the Frogs, throwing 26.2 inning in 2023.


Coming into the TCU weekend, the Titans are in the middle of playing nine out of 10 games on the road. Should the Titans come out of Fort Worth with a series win, it should definitely boost their RPI and more importantly, prepare them for the post-season. Playing on the road in a hostile environment will give these Titans a taste of what it will be like in the Regionals. Keep in mind, nobody on this year’s roster was on the 2018 team that went to the Regionals and Super Regionals.

The Titans are catching TCU at the right time because they are struggling right now and fighting to stay on the post-season consideration bubble. The Titans can expect a Horned Frogs team desperate to make their case against a higher RPI team to prove to the committee they deserve consideration come Selection Monday.

Weekend Probables

Friday, May 5: LHP – Tyler Stultz (5-3, 5.00 ERA) vs. RHP – Kole Klecker (7-4, 4.68 ERA)
Saturday, May 6: RHP – Fynn Chester (7-0, 2.23 ERA) vs. Louis Rodriguez (1-0, 4.73)
Sunday, May 7: RHP – Evan Yates (1-0, 3.12 ERA) vs. TBA

Times listed are Pacific time:
May 5, 2023 (Friday) at TCU – 4:30 PM
May 6, 2023 (Saturday) at TCU – 2:00 PM
May 7, 2023 (Sunday) at TCU – 10:00 AM

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